For years
he tried to divine the weather
or intuit the future

For years he tried to divine
what was portended by the various sightings
of familiar street people
or neighborhood eccentrics

These wraiths, seen from the safe, cool distance
of a speeding car
seemed delightfully, humorously broken
the detachment of the air-conditioned compartment
showed these exhibits separated by glass,
the wheeling car mocking the seriousness of the street:
blurring the truth and the real-life detail,
removing the dirty nuance of what is seen
when one foot follows-
falls- after another.

He would try to create some futurecast
based on the location, time, direction
and distance between
the vagabond sightings,
a flesh astrology
the orbits of the outsiders
forming a static pattern in his mind.

He did this without ever speaking about it to another person,
and sometimes without even realizing it.
He had done it for years.
It was one of many mental ticks
he didn’t recognize as anything other
than small amusements for a harried mind.

Once he had a glimpse
of the transitory and ephemeral nature of things
but failed to recognize or heed the vision,
merely thought of it as another mental abstraction,
another game.

Once on the Super shuttle
he was absently watching the streets tick past,
a calm clear day and the sidewalks of the city street
yielded sporadic tramps and travelers,
to his mind amusing members of a sub-car species.

When waiting for a train the van was stopped for several minutes
and he filled the time observing a trick of light and reflection
in a large van window.
There were several figures to fill up the time with,
to ponder their meaning to his mysterious interior life.

For a long time he watched a woman with an empty baby carriage walk past
until she was out of his field of view.
He then focused on a group of three tramps
with a shopping cart
in the basket of which
was an 18 pack of Old Milwaukee,
a few warm cans glowing through a cardboard wound.

As they walked he watched them, as if a nature film,
the oblique image of the woman with the barren carriage appeared again
as a refraction on the glass spectral and giant,
shimmering above and moving through the walking tramps.

The train passed and the van started to slowly move again.
The woman’s image began to fade
and the bums again assumed a place in the real world,
not some personal instructional film
about the naked apes.

But just as the juxtaposition
of the ghosting female image and the men
began to dissolve into rush hour,
the man was given a start
when he saw his own face
reflected on the interior of the glass.

The image of his serious face
for a moment at play with
the tramps and the woman and her empty crib
together in a kind of fugitive family portrait.

He was startled for a moment,
but as soon as the illusion appeared it was gone
and so was the uncomfortable feeling it summoned.

Something about a true shape.
about passing through another life
and counterpoint
and something about time

But the signal was lost on him,
passed right before his eyes

and just as the images receded and declined
to reveal a clean ordinary window,
he drifted into his own indifference.

He failed.
He failed to heed the chance to

pass through,
and be born each time.



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